British police are investigating an alleged metaverse sexual assault against a young girl’s avatar in a virtual reality video game.
As reported by the BBC via the British tabloid The Daily Mail, a girl under the age of 16 has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by multiple online strangers while playing a social VR game. The unnamed young girl said she has suffered “psychological trauma” due to the incident. National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Ian Critchley wrote that virtual 3D spaces, or metaverse experiences, have opened a “gateway for predators to commit horrific crimes against children, crimes we know have lifelong impacts both emotionally and mentally.” He added that tech companies must take action to “make their platforms safe places.”
Critchley added that online sexual offenders have been “constantly evolving” their tactics, and as such there should be a new approach to policing continually updating online spaces.
While it’s unclear which police department in the U.K. is handling the investigation, it marks the first major instance of an investigation into a sexual assault in a virtual reality metaverse experience. There was no physical contact in the assault since it was online through the use of people using VR headsets, but a senior officer said the victim suffered trauma “similar to that of someone who had been physically raped.”